Even though the school district has cancelled graduation ceremonies this year, individual high-schools are coming up with ways to celebrate graduates amidst the current virus pandemic.
Ken Young, principal of Nechako Valley Secondary School said, “This has been particularly challenging for our Senior students as they have looked forward to grade 12 for some time.”
“2020 was the year that they were going to finally graduate and we know they were so excited. We want to ensure that there will be some form of recognition and celebration of this milestone,” Young told the Omineca Express.
School officials have started to meet with staff grad organizers to see how they can celebrate graduation, within the guidelines issued by the health ministry. School staff will be considering input from students and parents as well.
“It will be a challenge, but we are focused on celebrating in some fashion. Our Grads deserve it,” Young added.
Meanwhile, even though the past few weeks have been challenging for teachers, students and parents alike, Young said it has been ‘amazing’ to see how quickly staff have been able to revamp teaching plans and methods in the short span of time.
One of the most difficult things for staff is — not having students in the building.
“All of the adults are missing the students and it has been difficult without them here. It has been the biggest challenge and they certainly look forward to the opportunities to connect through TEAMS meetings online, phone calls or emails,” he said.
Learning Support Workers have “really stepped up”, Young said, noting that the support workers are making sure that vulnerable learners are being connected with through walks, phone calls and academic support.
Another challenge faced by school teachers is that students have different levels of internet connectivity at home, so “not any one form of content delivery is best or works for everyone.”
Young said staff is not trying to “replicate school at home.”
“For example folks have various levels of internet access if they have it, not everyone has multiple devices at home, some wanted just paper, not everyone has email or text. So quite a bit of variation to how staff are communicating with students and parents. We focused on working to create learning opportunities.”
Meanwhile, Libby Hart, principal of W.L. McLeod Elementary School made a video for her students expressing how much teachers are missing them. Hart also sang a song in the video and talked about the importance of kindness and caring.
Hart told the Omineca Express that the situation caused by the virus outbreak has “certainly been a learning curve.”
“We keep saying that parents and teachers never took a course on how to teach and learn at a distance during a pandemic. We are learning together.”
“That being said, we have been so proud of our staff and our families. They are making it work. We know each student, family and situation is completely unique. We truly encourage everyone to really communicate between home and school so we can help to find the best fit. We encourage families to do what you can do, let us work with you as a team and, most importantly, please look after yourselves and each other. That’s the most important thing – all else will be OK.”